The internet is something that most of us don’t go a day without using. Children have computer lessons in school, ‘to google’ has become a verb, and I can’t remember the last time I saw someone look up a word in a physical dictionary rather than an online one.
But for the older generations, the internet is something relatively new. If you’ve ever had to show your grandparents how to use Google, or how to get internet on their phones, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Whilst young people are now growing up with lessons on the internet as a staple part of their education, the older generations aren’t so lucky, and for the most part have to figure it out on their own.
For some older folk, the internet and their lack of understanding of it, means that the development of this technology affects them in ways that younger generations might never consider.
Older generations struggle to master new technology and it can be disheartening
You might get frustrated every time your Grandma asks you for help with finding something online, but what most people don’t think about is how difficult it can be to master something completely new.
The prime time for learning new things is childhood, not the later years of your life. Whilst children and young people pick things up pretty quickly, older generations don’t have that ability. They might have stopped applying themselves to learning a long time ago, especially if they spent a lot of time a secure but repetitive job, and so it’s difficult for them to activate that part of the brain again. It’s like trying to lift weights after not having been to the gym for years. So bear with them, because it’s a lot harder for older generations, regardless of how quickly you picked it up. Trying to understand the internet can feel like learning a whole new language.
Older generations also struggle physically with a lot of technology. Poor eyesight can make it difficult to read screens, so even typing things into a search bar could prove a struggle. Things like arthritis can also affect their ability to master the internet, as tapping away on phones or keyboards can cause a lot of pain. Whilst they may be determined to use the internet, doing so might actually and literally be a pain.
The internet provides a whole new online world, one that older generations can feel left out of
We’ve all had experiences of feeling left out, so no matter what your age, you can surely empathise with this.
The internet is a whole other world from what older generations have been living. People are using it to talk to each other, shop, learn, work remotely, everything! And many older adults feel cut off from this. Whilst everyone else is constantly using the internet for something, half living in the virtual world through social media and messenger sites, older adults can feel like they’re alone in the real world.
Think about how many people you see walking through the street, their eyes glued to their phones. Then imagine that you don’t have a phone. Suddenly no one seems approachable, and there’s definitely no chance of a friendly passing chat.
So to sum up…
Not understanding and not being a part of something can feel awfully lonely. The internet affects older generations in ways that we probably didn’t realise.
So if any older adult asks you to help them with something, rather than giving a sigh of inconvenience, smile instead and give them a little of your time. Remember how frustrating and disheartening it can be not knowing what to do, and how upsetting it can be, feeling like you’re not included.